The sun and your skin
By Maritza I. Perez, M.D.
THE SUN GIVES OFF ENERGY in the form of light waves of different
lengths and intensity. The sunlight we see is called visible light. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is located just above visible light. UVR is classified
according to different energy levels. From shortest to longest wavelengths,
they are UVC, UVB and UVA.
UVC: UVC rays have the shortest wavelength, the most energy and fortunately do not penetrate the atmosphere.
UVB: UVB rays are the most potent rays that reach the earth. UVB rays cause
sunburn (think “B is for burning rays”) and can also lead to the development
of skin cancers. Sun protection factor (SPF) ratings measure a product’s
ability to block UVB rays.
UVA: UVA rays have less energy but penetrate deepest into the skin.
These rays cause aging (think “A is for aging”). They are the least associated with skin cancer, but if delivered in
high dosages can cause skin cancer,
allergic and nonallergic sun-induced eruptions, darkening and pigmentation of the
skin and acceleration of the aging process.
After chronic long-term exposure to UVA
rays, the skin may appear dry, scaly, spotted, wrinkled and leathery.
As a dermatologist, I recommend daily
use of a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) SPF
15 or higher sunscreen for optimal sun
protection. However, wearing sunscreen
should not give you a false sense of security, regardless of the SPF rating. Even a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 40
still doesn’t completely block the sun.
Also, SPF measurements don’t strongly factor in all of the damaging UVA rays. That’s why it’s important to use a broad- Water, spectrum product formulated to help snow and block most UVA rays as well. Plus, the cu- sand can mulative effect over a lifetime of UVB and reflect up to?
UVA rays that still get through sunscreen is not negligible. 85% of the
Application as frequently as needed is sun’s rays
important (e.g., at least every two hours when
sweating or swimming). Also, wearing protective
clothing and taking shelter during midday, at high altitudes and from reflective surfaces can protect your skin from skin cancer and premature aging. A
This article sponsored by Procter & Gamble,
maker of Olay Total Effects broad-spectrum
SPF 15 formula. This formula not only helps
protect you from harmful sunlight, it also
contains VitaNiacin, Olay’s state-of-the-art
anti-aging technology, and is proven to
reduce the appearance of all seven of these
signs of aging:
• Diminishes the appearance of fine
lines and wrinkl es
• Reduces the appearance
of blotches and age spots
• Smoothes skin texture
• Evens skin tone
• Improves surface dullness
• Minimizes the appearance of pores
• Soothes dry skin
Maritza I. Perez, M.D., is director of cosmetic dermatology at St. Luke’s–Roosevelt
Hospital Center in New York.